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Macromedia FreeHand was a vector graphics editor that was created by Altsys Corporation, licensed to Aldus,[1] and acquired by Macromedia,[2] which itself was acquired by Adobe in December 2005.[3]

Product history[]


Looking back at Macromedia FreeHand

FreeHand was originally developed by Altsys from Fontographer's graphics engine as Masterpiece,[4] which was licensed to Aldus in the fall of 1987.[1] The program was released as Aldus FreeHand 1.0, with Altsys retaining development rights.[5] Aldus (not Altsys) was absorbed by Adobe Systems in a merger that was completed on August 31, 1994.[6][7] Altsys sued to regain marketing rights to FreeHand, citing a non-compete clause clause because of Adobe's development of Adobe Illustrator.[5]

Acquisition by Macromedia[]

Altsys was acquired by Macromedia in January 1995.[2] The original development team in Richardson, Texas was renamed the Digital Arts Group and continued development of the program as Macromedia FreeHand. The engineers also created Macromedia Fireworks and the two software projects often shared resources.[1][8]

Acquisition by Adobe and discontinuation[]

In 2003, the Texas development staff were laid off or relocated to Macromedia's main office in San Francisco. Prior to that, the team rushed to add many new features to Macromedia FreeHand MX with the expectation that it might be the last version that they would ever work on.[8]

After the acquisition of Macromedia by Adobe in 2005, Macromedia FreeHand MX became Adobe FreeHand 11 without any new major updates, with version 11.0.2 being the final release. Migration guides and upgrades to Adobe Illustrator CS3 were offered to existing users.[9] Adobe's support for FreeHand ended on August 1, 2011.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Aldus Licenses Altsys' Mac Graphics Program, InfoWorld p.65. 1987-09-21.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Macromedia completes acquisition of Altsys by Bloomberg News, The New York Times. 1995-01-25.
  3. Adobe Completes Acquisition of Macromedia, Adobe Systems. 2005-12-05. Archived 2005-12-07.
  4. The key role of Fontographer in the font revolution by David Bergsland, Fontographer: Practical Font Design for Graphic Designers. Radiqx Press. 2011-09.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Aldus to Add Products, Enhance Pagemaker, InfoWorld p.125. 1987-10-26.
  6. Aldus and Adobe Lay Claim to Digital Publishing by Laurie Flynn, The New York Times. 1994-08-24.
  7. Aldus and Adobe Systems Finalize Merger, Computer History Museum. 1994-08-31.
  8. 8.0 8.1 R.I.P. FreeHand by Andy Finnell, Safe from the Losing Fight. 2007-05-17.
  9. FreeHand no longer updated; moving to Illustrator by John Nack, Adobe Blogs. 2007-05-16.

External links[]

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Macromedia FreeHand
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Discontinued in May 2007